The Amnesty International has questioned the reliability of the Sunday referendum, pointing out it will be held under “chilling climate” when the people cannot speak their minds freely.
In its press statement issued Friday, the Amnesty International said the referendum is taking place “against a backdrop of pervasive human rights violations that have created a chilling climate”.
It said the Thai authorities have arbitrarily arrested scores of people, have cancelled or disrupted peaceful assemblies and took off the air a television station in recent weeks. It said these incidents were just the most recent undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
“If people cannot speak their minds freely or take part in political activities without fear, how can they meaningfully engage in this referendum?” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific, was quoted as saying in the press release.
“Amnesty International calls on the Thai Government to respect and protect human rights by creating an environment in which individuals and groups can freely and confidently share ideas and express their opinions on the upcoming referendum and any subsequent stage in its plans for political transition,” the statement added.
“Gen Prayut [Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister]’s actions have spoken louder than his words. Instead of fulfilling his commitment to respect people’s rights and allow them to speak freely, the authorities have now created a chilling climate of fear,” said Josef Benedict.